Little Kathy discovers a man wanted for murder hiding in her family's barn. When she asks him who he is, he says Jesus Christ just before he goes unconscious. Kathy and her siblings are convinced that he is Jesus and try to hide him from grown-ups. Written by
Adolescent English farm-girl discovers an escaped, bearded convict sleeping in the family barn and thinks he's Jesus. Young Kathy needs to believe this, even after the police come to cart him away. He even drops a picture of the Savior, which seems to symbolize not only the prisoner's fall from grace but one more sign for Kathy that, yes, this mysterious man might be Him. "Whistle Down the Wind" is a hard-shelled movie that says we lose hope and faith as we mature--which isn't an original idea for a film, but the cynical way this is presented catches you off-guard. One little boy numbers the eggs he has has eaten (a mixture of his bemusement and his feeling of monotony), one little girl vows to keep counting until Kathy comes out of the barn. These children need to believe too, of course, but they're much more raw than Kathy; they strip ideas down to the basics. Kathy believes blindly. It's a touching character, the centerpiece of the film, and I was enchanted by Hayley Mills' open face and yearning smile. The other youngsters are also remarkable. If the film doesn't offer us fanciful answers, it does provide playful bits of visual humor. Even the rhythm of the kids' words is comical (and the way they relate to one another seems very natural). The film gives away nothing without an eternal struggle, and at the end there is no clear answer. I believe the next day would become routine for the children, they would go back to their basics. But Kathy has changed, and the convict has as well. Their lives intersected for a moment, and, though others became involved, they both learned something from the other about the need to believe. ***1/2 from ****
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